Lennon: Oyenuga would never play for me again after dive

Neil Lennon says his Hibs players are not getting enough protection from referees
Neil Lennon says his Hibs players are not getting enough protection from referees
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon says no player who feigned injury in the way Morton forward Kudus Oyenuga did at Easter Road would ever play for him again.

It was Oyenuga’s late challenge on Jordon Forster – one which Lennon claimed could have been “career-ending” – which sparked the mass brawl that marred the end of the Championship clash between Hibs and the Greenock outfit and resulted in both him and Darren McGregor, as well as Lennon and Morton manager Jim Duffy being sent off.

While clubs usually protect players in the aftermath of controversial incidents by refusing to allow them to speak to the press, Lennon said: “You haven’t asked him a question, you haven’t interviewed him, you haven’t gone to him and got his take on it.”

Asked if he would let any of his players near the press under such circumstances, Lennon retorted: “He wouldn’t play for me again. I would come out and condemn that behaviour, not only for the tackle, but the disgraceful behaviour afterwards. He’s a coward.”

McGregor rushed over to confront Oyenuga, going head-to-head with the Englishman who then collapsed holding his face although there appeared to have been no contact.

Forster, who had come on as a late substitute for Paul Hanlon, suffered a shoulder injury which will put him out of action for three or four weeks, but Lennon was adamant the consequences could have been far more serious for his player.

And he admitted he was unhappy at how Forster’s plight as the mayhem unfolded around him was ignored both at the time and consequently. He said: “Thankfully there’s no leg injury, so he’s lucky.

“If his leg had been planted, he would have been looking at a lot more serious injury. He was lying on the ground while all them lot [from the Morton dug-out] were running over, trampling past him to get at me, not caring a jot about him. But I have to look after the welfare of my players, that’s my job and his career. It could have been a career-ending challenge.”

Duffy admitted immediately after the game that his player’s tackle had been both reckless and dangerous but, revealed Lennon, there had been no apology from Cappielow or from Oyenuga himself.

Forty-eight hours on from the match Lennon was still clearly furious not only with the events which took place but the way they have since been portrayed and the comments made the following day by Duffy.

He said: “I’m angry with the way it’s been handled, I’m angry with certain quarters of the media. I’m angry with what’s been said afterwards, as if it was light and it’s played down and it’s handbags and it’s emotion and passion and all that.

“Sorry, I’m not having it. I don’t agree with the Morton manager at all. He played it down because he knows he is in the wrong. I’m not letting him get away with that. I had time for him, or I did have time for him, not any more.

Insisting chairman Rod Petrie, chief executive Leeann Dempster and the rest of the Easter Road board were 
120 per cent – “if you can get 120 per cent” – behind him, Lennon, added: “The foul 
count was 20 to ten, They had double the fouls. I don’t know what the yellow card count was. Yet, we have a player sent off and they have a player sent off.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. We’re not getting protection. It’s more or less like that in every game.”

When it was pointed out that Wednesday night’s referee was Nick Walsh, the official who sent off Hibs midfielder Marvin Bartley earlier in the season only to have the red card rescinded, Lennon, who has appealed McGregor’s ordering off, replied: “I know. It will be interesting to see if we get this rescinded as well because that needs to be seriously looked at.”